About Knutson & Associates

Founding Owners: Marilyn Knutson/Sharon Knutson 

Marilyn Knutson was the founding broker who established the company in 1976, and she built a legacy many people in Kona still remember.  Marilyn was a Real Estate Legend on the Island. She was able to make Knutson & Associates an incredible company that thrived as a Top Performing Company on the Island. Marilyn established the very first website for Vacation Rentals on the island!  She will always be remembered. 

Sharon Knutson, daughter of Marilyn Knutson was licensed since the age of 18. Sharon took over the company and 2005 and continued to build the empire that Knutson & Associates is today. Sharon was a third generation Realtor in her family owned business. Sharon was the Broker in Charge of Knutson & Associates for many years, all while raising 3 kids, and 2 dogs. Family was always very important to Sharon; This reflected in the relationships she had with her clients. Values like trust and honesty are the foundation aspects, Knutson & Associates thrive on. Sharon always emphasized that at Knutson & Associates, we speak Aloha!

Marilyn & Sharon will always be remembered, and their legacy made a huge impact on Kona.  All of Marilyns grandchildren/Sharons children all work at the company now. Blake Kessner oldest son of Sharon, is the Principal Broker & Owner. Stephanie Kessner, daughter to Sharon runs the Long Term Rental Division, & Grant Kessner, son to Sharon is the Director of Guest Relations. The 3 of them are proud to say that Knutson & Associates will always be a family owned company. We are a local company, with the best local roots one could ask for! 



Blake Kessner | Principal Broker/Owner

Blake Kessner is the Owner/Principal Broker at Knutson & Associates.  He is the son of Sharon Knutson  & is the grandson to Marilyn Knutson, founder of the company. 

Blake is a 4th generation broker..born and raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, so he knows his locations exceptionally well. Blake will do what it takes to gain your trust in allowing us the privilege to represent you for purchasing, selling, or managing property here on the Big Island of Hawaii!

Blake oversee operations for over 200 Vacation Rental & Long term properties on the Big Island of Hawaii. Therefore, his specialty is working with investment clients & Resort & Second Home Properties. Professional Development & Education is part of the foundation to Blake's success. Therefore, he has multiple certifications and designations in the Real Estate Profession. 















Blake Kessner, BIC License# R(B)-22317

Knutson & Associates


Office: (808) 329-1010

Cell: (808) 987-9295

Dominique Miller| Lead Property Manager

Dominique Miller was born and raised in Northern California and moved to the beautiful state of Hawaii almost 15 years ago. Since a young age Dominique has come from a family owned and operated property management company based in California. During her time here on the island she studied at the University of Hawaii with degrees in both Culinary Arts and Business Management. With degrees specializing in hospitality she will provide a personal based connection with each owner, guest, and tenant to ensure that all needs are met. Loving and living Aloha is not just a saying for Dominique, it is a way of life. She believes in family values and that each and every client will become part of the knutson family. When Dominique is not in the office you can find her with family and fur family enjoying all the beautiful views this island has to offer.  

Dominique Miller, R(S) License #84111

Knutson & Associates


Office: (​808) 329-1010

Kapena Ortiz| Assistant Property Manager: Maintenance

Kapena Ortiz is born and raised in Kailua Kona on the Big Island. His background in customer service had started with a career in the hospitality industry where he spent 7 years working at the Four Seasons Resort at Hualālai. He held a position at the #1 best spa in the country featured on Forbes. Being an employee of the Four Seasons, he has extensive training and certificates to accommodate the high standards of guests expectations. Over the years, he has had the pleaser of working and building relationships with a numerous amount of celebrities, athletes and CEO’s of large corporations. Not only is his experience solely in customer service, he also worked in construction with his dad where he acquired many different aspects of building and handy work. This makes a great edition for when it comes to the position as Assistant Property Manager in maintenance. He is very excited to start a career path in the real estate field and potentially will persevere in the future. 


Kapena Ortiz

Knutson & Associates


 Office: (​808) 445-9363

Shyya Hao| Property Manager & Head inspector

Shyya is an essential part of Knutson & Associates. Shyya inspects our Vacation Rental Properties. Whether it be for an Arrival or Departure, her attention to detail is exceptional. Shyya helps ensure the Physical Integrity of our properties is upheld to our standards.  


Shyya Hao, R(S)85926

Knutson & Associates


Office: (​808) 329-1010


Stephanie Kessner|Director of Long Term Rentals Division

Stephanie Kessner is the Daughter of Sharon Knutson,  and the Sister of Blake Kessner, the Owner/PB at Knutson & Associates. She is the Granddaughter to Marilyn Knutson, the woman who made Knutson & Associates a reality.


Stephanie was born and raised in Kailua-Kona. After graduating high school, she moved to Hilo and attended the University of Hawaii at Hilo. After completing a full year there majoring in Administrative Justice and Hotel Management she moved back to Kona and shortly after that she decided to

move to the Island of Oahu, where she was accepted into the Paralegal Program at Kapiolani Community College. She graduated from the Paralegal Program with an Associates Degree in Paralegal Science. 


Stephanie decided after graduating she would move back home to Kailua Kona. Where she would find a job at a Law Firm in Kona. While she searched for that job, she was hired at Office Max and worked in the Print Center. She excelled while working there because she previously had many years of experience working in the Customer Service Industry. She worked for Office Max for just shy of 3 years, when she finally landed the job she had been searching for all along, the job at a Law Firm. Stephanie jumped at the opportunity to have this job and started working for the Firm that specialized in the Laws of Copyright, Trademark, and Litigation. All these types of Laws were new to Stephanie but she was always up for  

a challenge and she excelled her knowledge further of the different types of Laws and gained more important Skills that will forever benefit her in any job she has in Life.


Stephanie has now decided after working for the Law Firm for the last 5 years, she will now join her Family Business at Knutson & Associates Real Estate Company. She is excited for the future and her new career path in Property Management and Sales.


Stephanie Kessner

Knutson & Associates


 Office: (​808) 329-1010

Hunter Hinson|Assistant Property Manager: Operations 

This 6th generation California native grew up on his family’s ranch on the central coast in Santa Barbara county.  Hunter worked as a wild land firefighter, and studied real estate at UC Santa Barbara. While Surfing and fishing the coastline for 20 years, he was drawn by family and friends to the warmer waters of Hawaii, where he is inspired to help others find their paradise. 


Hunter Hinson

Knutson & Associates


 Office: (​808) 329-1010

Mervyln Simmons|Assistant Property Manager: Operations 

Born and Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Mervlyn has become accustomed to the ever growing place she calls home, Kailua Kona, HI. As a mother of 3 wonderful children and a devoted wife, she has gained professional experience through many different styles of Businesses and has strived in each one. She is currently pursuing her Bachelors degree to obtain her degree in Science of Business with a certificate in Finances, she is also a licensed Insurnace agent, and helps out her community any way she can. Passion, accuracy, Customer Service and attention to detail, is her strong points and she will strive to exude that here. She was apart of Knutson & Associates in 2019-2020 and has been studying to obtain her Real Estate license ever since, she looks to join in with the great teamwork ethics here at Knutson & Associates.


Mervlyn Simmons

Knutson & Associates


 Office: (​808) 329-1010

Gemilie Ilao|Lead Senior Property Manager

Gem Ilao was born and raised on the island of Guam with two loving parents as the youngest of five children. Her family’s business taught her the value of hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. Playing a variety of sports and representing Guam in a number of competitive events, taught Gem the value of leadership, team building, and perseverance. After graduating high school, she attended the University of Washington in Seattle and received a bachelor's degree in Communications. 

Gem has been working in property management for six years. She is a strong communicator, providing excellent customer service to her clients/tenants, and a responsible operations manager making sure anything she needs to do is done right and on time. As a frequent visitor of Hawaii with family and friends living in Oahu and the Big Island, Gem understands island culture and living. She decided to move to Kailua-Kona to further her career in real estate sales and property management. 

Gem is a very outgoing and enthusiastic person. She never takes opportunities for granted and will do her very best to find the perfect home and/or manage your properties for you. When she is not working, Gem is studying to receive her online MBA degree from Seattle University. She also enjoys going to the beach, cooking, and playing with her pet bunnies!


Gemilie Ilao, R(S)85286

Knutson & Associates


 Office: (​808) 329-1010

Heather Tribolet|Property Manager: Operations

I am Originally from Southern California. I grew up near the beach with a deep love and respect for the ocean. I went to college in San Francisco for Design and Marketing. After art school I traveled the globe for a little while. I settled down on the Big Island about 7 years ago. I have spent the last few years working on the ocean here in Kona, spending occasional summers in Alaska, working as a boat captain. In my free time I can be found diving, swimming, snorkeling or creating art. I am very excited for this new career path and hope to acquire my real estate license.


Heather Tribolet, R(S)86935

Knutson & Associates


 Office: (​808) 329-1010




Claire Stewart|Lead Senior Property Manager

Growing up in northwest Washington State while managing the office for her family’s small business, Claire developed a deep appreciation for offering positive experiences through personalized care. An avid traveler, she loves connecting with people from all over the world. She brings a background of a variety of customer service and hospitality positions in beautiful places including ski towns of Colorado, coastal California, yoga retreats in Mexico, and more, and feels grateful to now call the Big Island home. In free time, she can be found outside enjoying the simple but profound pleasures our lovely Earth provides, often with her little fluffy dog in tow. 


Claire Stewart,R(S)85424  

Knutson & Associates


 Office: (​808) 329-1010


Jenae Patterson|Head Property Manager: Accounting

Jenae Patterson was born and raised on the island of Oahu with frequent trips to the Big Island of Hawaii.  Both places hold a special place in her heart.  She spent 6 years in Washington state in her early adulthood which diversified her views and helped shape her into the person she is today.  Upon returning to Hawaii her love for the islands deepened.  Jenae joined the Knutson and Associates team in 2014 and has been a valuable member of the team since day one.  She has an exemplary eye for detail and drive to get things done.


Knutson & Associates


 Office: (​808) 329-1010



Grant Kessner|Director of Guest Relations & Revenue Strategy

Grant, son of Sharon Knutson & brother to Blake Kessner started working for the company in 2015 & focused in Maintenance & Quality Assurance. He has since gained lots of experience in Property Management throughout the Islands, which includes Maui & Oahu. We're excited to welcome Grant back to the company in 2022! 


Knutson & Associates




Melissa Dawson|Assistant Property Manager

Having been born and raised on a farm in Central Washington, I moved to Hawaii in 2017 and never looked back. I was happy to trade the cold weather and snow for the sun and sand. My background has primarily been in food service since graduating from culinary school in 2005. Over the years, I’ve gone back and forth between restaurant management and nannying. My biggest passion is kids in addition to my love for good food. On my time off you can find me baking or trying new recipes at home or sitting at the beach with a good book. I look forward to serving the Big Island in a new capacity as an Assistant Property Manager at Knutson & Associates.


Knutson & Associates




Samantha Chen|Assistant Property Manager

I was born and raised on Oahu and graduated with a degree in Travel Industry Management from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. I developed a desire to work in the hospitality industry after seeing the community my parents built with their small business over the course of 30 years. I have experience working in customer service with companies such as Fairmont Orchid and Aloha Hospitality Professionals. Now, I’m excited to shift into property management and am eager to learn about real estate. 


Knutson & Associates





David Scott|Property Manager: Operations

Aloha my name is David Scott, I am 23 years old and I am currently a personal assistant for Blake Kessner at Knutson & Associates. I was born in Kanagawa, Japan but raised right here in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. I graduated from Kealakehe High School and some of my  hobbies include, going to the beach, playing music with my ukulele, spending time with good people, and playing video games occasionally! Professionally I have experience managing a Planet Fitness where I built great work ethic, experienced real responsibility, and met a variety of great people! 


David Scott, R(S)87069



Valerie Bascar|Executive Assistant to Blake Kessner

Aloha Kākou, I was born and raised on the Island of Maui, Hawaii and have decided to reside on the Island of Hawai’i in 2018. Since then, I’ve managed a Fitness Facility to build my managerial skills for 3 years. After welcoming my daughter in 2020, I decided to leave the Fitness Industry and pursue my career in the Hospitality Industry. I’ve expanded my knowledge/skills with the Fairmont Orchid, Outrigger Kona Resort & Spa, and Marriott Courtyard King Kamehameha Resort. All were Supervisors/management roles. Since then, I have shifted my interest to the Property Management industry! To get my foot through the door, I am excited start as the Assistant to Blake Kessner with Knutson & Associates.

Knutson & Associates





Nikala Beetem|Assistant to Blake Kessner

Aloha! I am Nikala (Nikki) Beetem from Big Island Hawaii, being raised here with the aloha and culture, I am very happy to call this island my home.

 After graduating high school a year early I went straight into working as a luxury housekeeper in Kukio, my enjoyment for property management and real estate soared from there on. With many different jobs in the property industry since, I have gained much experience working closely with clients and forming great bonds. I am a passionate real estate student, who also loves going to the beach, traveling, and hanging out with my fur babies. In my current role as Blake Kessners personal assistant I am excited and eager to embrace the opportunities that the future holds for me.


Knutson & Associates